Superman and Me
Superman and Me: the Role Models While Growing Up
Sitting in third grade listening to the teachers voice fade louder then softer as Wilbur met Charlotte. While I tapped my pencil on my desk, looked at the clock, tried to pass a note to my friend that was listened intently. I was bored, I couldn’t focus enough to remember what the book was about. I got through it, getting A’s and B’s on all my homework and quizzes. My report card said I was doing good. Until my teacher pulled me to her desk to read an “M” book instead of a “Q” book like everyone else. In this instance, each book represented a letter of the alphabet and I was further behind than the rest of my class. I would look at the pictures and imagine words that were not on the page. Much like Sherman Alexie did when he wrote in “Superman and Me”, “I cannot read the words, but I assume it tells me that, ‘Superman is breaking down the door’”(325). As he was imagine superman, I imagined the same things. To me it didn’t matter because it was not a grade, but then my mom found out. Due to the fact that my mother was such a big influence in my academic career, I was able to become a better student and will become a better teacher.
The night of parent teacher conference night finally arrived, I begged my mom not to go. I tried to remind her how good I was at math and how all my grades were high. My teacher, Mrs. Wilson, wrote my mom a lengthy note urging her to come. My mom came home that night determined, I thought she would be upset with me for not using my finger to track when reading the “M” book. She sat me down at the kitchen table and told me to read one of my math word problems. I did it with ease, breezing through it. Then she gave me a Junie B. Jones book from off the shelf and told me to read her a few lines. I tripped over a few words and took twice the time to read it than the math problem. That’s when my mom knew we had work to do.
The next day my mom picked me up after school and asked me if I had any homework. I exclaimed that I already got my math done, but I still had a test over a book to study for. When we got home my mom grabbed my bike from the garage. She would ask me a question, if I answered it correctly, I was allowed to drive up and down my small street. I was finally getting it, my mom knew I could do it. Similar to when Alexie writes, “The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood”(324). The bike rides were enjoyable to me, which allowed me to realize my potential just like Alexie did. This went on for weeks and my test scores got higher. My mom even threw different games in the mix to keep my interest. I was lucky to have my mom, I would have been placed in a title one reading class without her.
In highschool, I had an English teacher, Mrs. Hardgrove, she was a stickler. On average my class got no higher than B’s in her class. However, I got A’s. When I took her final that was based off of comprehension from the books’ Fahrenheit 451, Hamlet, and Of Mice and Men I scored a 97%. Without all the work my mom had done I would have been put in a lower level learning and would have stayed there for the rest of my academic career. Alexie writes in Superman and Me, “I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky”(327). I am lucky as well, I am lucky to have a mother that cares about me enough to help me be who I am today.
Thinking back on the times my mom helped me, I wish that each child would have the opportunity of working with an adult if they were falling behind. My mom inspired me to make the decision to become an elementary school teacher. If she would not have helped me, I would not have had such a positive outlook on teaching. Due to this experience I believe that each child should have their own cheerleader helping them get through life. In my school the kids that had got placed into special needs never got out those classes, they spent 13 years with the same group of kids only switching it up every once in awhile. Some of these kids had the knowledge to rise above these classes, just did not have the help. This is why I think every kid should have a parent, teacher or relative to lean on when times get hard, like I did.
I am now in college writing, not tapping my pencil, looking at the clock or trying to pass notes. Instead I am understanding what is being taught to me. I am being treated like an adult. The tasks that are given to me are all reasonable and I am capable of getting them done. Since I now have this positive outlook on learning, I am dedicated to the children that need a cheerleader in their academic career. Each student should have the help that I got and to not feel embarrassed to ask for it. If it was not for the help of my mother, I do not know what my path would have been. Life is a beautiful ride.
A Special Narration Technique in Superman and Me
Superman and Me MRA
Thesis: More often than not, writers of the modern era are lured into toying and testing the mechanical framework of their writing to create the most impactful story possible. In writing Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie does just that and breaks new ground on utilizing third-person based narration not only to construct an extended metaphor, but also in achieving a near-perfect connection with his own story that the conscious reader is able to pick up on.
To this day, third person narration remains a powerful technique in the art of language that allows the author to place himself/herself within the plot of the actual story while keeping an intermediary position as narrator by avoiding the potential for bias that is commonly associated with first-person based narration. But how complex of a connection can the author truly construct using third-person? For Sherman Alexie, very deep. He initially offsets the foundation for his story by delving into details of his past and childhood years in the first-person to establish some form of trust between the audience and his authoritative position as narrator. In essence, the overarching message that one concludes from his piece as a whole falls something along the lines of how education has the power to “save lives.” In retrospect, when we pay careful attention to the flow of the essay, it becomes increasingly hinted that this isn’t necessarily the furthest extent of Alexie’s intended message. Considering the craftsmanship behind the repetitive style of writing and the level of emotion drawn by his tone and syntax from the start, it simply can’t be. His switch to third-person based narration is sudden and unexpected, throwing the reader off from the composure and flow of the essay. This is his way of signaling that the reader should pay close attention to his new narrative mode as it begins halfway through on page 17 with, “This might be an interesting story all by itself. A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly…” Like the Superman comic that jump-started his path to success and like the Man of Steel himself, we know that Sherman Alexie becomes his own reincarnated version of Superman. As a grown and successful member of the contemporary society today, this is critical for Alexie as he looks back on his past because rather than it being just another profound success story, it serves as a testament not only for his readers or Indian children of his reservation today, but more importantly for himself. Literally, this piece is the heart and living legacy of everything he’s achieved and stands for. Yet, this parallelism between Alexie and Superman only remains half of it. As any serious Superman fan would know, Clack Kent is the fictional character that is Superman’s real identity in society. The creators of Superman with Marvel Studios insist that Mr. Clark goes about daily life in the fictional world of the Superman storyline without the public being aware of his true identity as Superman. This is shocking news because Superman is the only mainstream superhero that exists today who does not wear a mask, complex disguise, or quite anything besides a plain cape and lettered suit. His identity and physical appearance are fully exposed all the times. This is highly relevant to the Superman and Me piece because it has a direct correlation to Sherman Alexie and his representation as Superman in the story. As previously stated, on one hand he becomes Superman himself, “widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” (pg. 17) On the other, he is exactly what he describes himself to be, a regular “…little Indian boy…” that “…grows into a man who often speaks of his childhood in the third-person, as if it will somehow dull the pain and make him sound more modest about his talents.” (pg. 17) Just as the Superman storyline goes, Alexie truly is a living testament to being a superhero but society today fails to realize that and instead chooses to ignore him as such and “…with theatrical precision.” (Pg. 18) In other words, not only does he set himself up to “become” Superman, but quite literally is able to incorporate the fictional Superman storyline and make it his own – a real one. All of this was achieved with simple yet elaborately thought out usage of third-person based narration giving us new light on the powers of writing and language . With Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie has masterfully demonstrated technique in narration mode but above all has used it to make a the entire Superman legacy as real as you and I.
The Topic Of Literacy In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie
The central question of Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me” is ‘how did the gift of literacy impact Sherman Alexie’s life?’. Alexie expected more of himself than his culture did. Literacy gave him a sense of individuality by separating him from the stereotypes of Indians and he was able to “save his life” through it.
Literacy created a divide between him and his peers. Through his abilities, he was able to avoid being categorized by the traditional Indian stereotypes placed on him by outside cultures as well as his own culture. He willed himself to be the exception. Indian children were not expected, let alone encouraged, to read and write. Indians were only accepted if they conformed to the social norm of unintelligence. He stood out from the crowd with his drive for change and unwillingness to conform to society’s expectations of what he could accomplish.
Sherman Alexie was able to “save his life” through the power of reading and writing. From the moment Alexie was born, he was expected to fail because of the circumstances he was born into- Indian, lower class, and living on a reservation. He knew that reading was the key to overcoming his adversaries and creating a difference, not only in his life but in the lives of other Indian children. While Alexie enjoyed reading, he also read out of desperation to achieve. Through Sherman Alexie’s consistent reading, he was able to save his life. He never gave in to the stereotypes his community placed upon him. He was able to become a writer, a career that is not usually pursued by Indians. Through all of his hard work, he was able to not only save his own life from becoming insignificant, but work towards saving other young Indians’ lives as well through the gift of literacy during his visits to Indian schools.
Throughout the story, “Superman and Me”, the central question is answered to full extent. The author treats the central question with pride. He was proud of what he was able to accomplish through his drive at such a young age and knows that he was lucky to be born into a home were reading was normalized instead of looked down upon. He acknowledges the he is lucky for this. This gave him the willpower to keep going even when everyone from his culture as well as from other cultures were telling him to stick to the status quo.
Analysis Of Rhetorical Devices In Sherman Alexie’s Superman And Me
Superman and Me is a memoir written by Sherman Alexie in 1998. It’s about Sherman’s childhood and how reading a Superman comic book made an impact on his life. Sherman Alexie is a writer who comes from Native American culture and was not given a bright future. He believes not only reading books will help a student learn, it will save their lives.
Alexie uses pathos to the appeal the reader by called himself “little Indian boy” in his story who teaches himself how to read at an early age and learns quickly.” He does not consider himself a genius but he considers himself the little Indian boy who can read and was able to advance his reading skills because of his passion for books and literature. Alexie “read books late into the night” until he “could barely keep” his “eyes open. The relationship between Alexie and literature was so powerful that it was like paper and glue stuck to each other. His emotion tells the reader about how reading could influence the reader and Sherman Alexie is a victim of that influence.
Another rhetorical device Alexie uses is hyperbole. “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living rooms.” A house filled with thousands of books in every room would be a mad house. He is trying to say that he had so many books to read and is creating an image for the reader’s mind to visualize how many books he had read. This also shows how he grew up reading in his childhood life. The more books he was reading, he was saving his life by grabbing knowledge from reading texts.
Alexie masks himself as the unfortunate little Indian boy in his story to show his audience who he really is, which is an example of persona. He wants the audience to know unfortunate the Indian boy was living with the expectations to be un-sophisticated and un-social in school because of the environment he lived in. Throughout his story, he masks the boy into a child who is willing to learn by reading every book he held into his hands and read until he could barely keep his eyes open. The little Indian boy was saving himself from the destitute life he was living by educating himself from reading comic books into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into several paragraphs, and several paragraphs into a book containing more and more pages to read until his eyes were ready to be shut and be open again to read more.
This childhood memoir Superman and Me contains rhetorical devices such as pathos, hyperbole, and persona to connect to Sherman Alexie’s perspective about education. There are many children who cannot attend school because of the poor environment they live in that does not provide education for them. Environments like the ones that Alexie used to live in his childhood can influence those children into a path that will not provide them a future instead a future of more of unfortunate events to struggle in life. Reading can change a person’s life and also save their life. Alexie has shown the reader that he did not let his stereotype or the environment he lived in to affect his future. He shows that any Native American can succeed, not only Native American, but also many ethnicity in the world can also succeed like he did. Alexie will always give credit to the Superman comic book that helped him to teach himself how to read and from that day he began to save his life.
The Theme of Self-Education in Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie
What does it really mean to be self-educated? There are many different components of what it takes to be self-educated. In the case of Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me, we see that self-education is not only just learning what a word is, and what a few letters thrown together looks like. Instead it is taking many of those things and conceptual ideas and applying them to everyday life. Something that people don’t really think about generally is that children do this a lot. They are like sponges absorbing information from everywhere around them. I agree with Alexie’s definition on education and what it means to be literate.
As told in Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie, learning to read is not hard once you become dedicated and find some interest in it. It helps that he was surrounded by all books because it somewhat “forced” him to have an interest in his surroundings. Alexie says, “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living room. … My father loved books, and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well.” (Alexie p. 15) You can say that Alexie’s role model was his father in the sense that he wanted to love what his dad loved. This helped spark the “love/fiery interest” of learning how to read and gaining an understanding of it. What’s crazy about this story is that to the outside world Alexie was considered poor, but his father understood what reading could do for a young child. Therefore he surrounded his children in books. Even if it wasn’t the newest book, it was still some type of pathway for greater knowledge.
Young children use a lot of context clues to make sense of their surroundings. Alexie states, “The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood, with a sudden clarity, the purpose of a paragraph.” (Alexie p. 15) When he started reading he did not know what a paragraph was but using his context clues he was able to form an idea on what it was and what its purpose was. He said, “I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words. … They had some specific reason for being inside the same fence.” (Alexie p. 16) It’s amazing to think that a child can come up with a thought so grand and novel like that. He wasn’t only able to keep this applied to just reading, but also to the life around him. This is a huge part of being educated, when you can use what you learn and apply it to an everyday thing. In the story, Alexie says, “I began to think of everything in terms of paragraphs. Our reservation was a small paragraph within the United States. My family’s house was a paragraph… Inside our house, each family member existed as a separate paragraph but still had genetics and common experiences to link us. … At the same time I was seeing the world in paragraphs…” (Alexie p. 16) This is the moment that everything comes together. The reading and the context clues and bigger ideas become a grand thought process that people are then able to apply to multiple situations.
Being educated and literate means to have a wide span of knowledge on many different things in life. Once you open a book, that’s one more word in your vocabulary bank that will help you understand the world even more. The phrase knowledge is power, is so true because once you can read, you can understand your rights as a citizen and this, to the men who created the country, can pose a huge threat against them. It allows for minorities to rise up and rebel. Alexie tells us, “A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed by Indians and non-Indians alike.” (Alexie p. 17) The government doesn’t want minorities to be educated enough to understand the injustices they are dealt. This is when one knows that they are truly educated. Alexie refused to live up to society’s expectations of what he was suppose to be. Living in this box was not an option for him. He says, “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid. Most lived up to those expectations inside the classroom but subverted them on the outside. … As Indian children, we were expected to fail in the non-Indian world. Those who failed were ceremonially accepted by other Indians and appropriately pitied by non-Indians.” (Alexie p. 18) He was determined to be successful at reading and began to have a love for it. Failing was not an option for him. He even said, “I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.” (Alexie p. 19) In this second to last paragraph he states fourteen times “I read…” There were many instances where he would just be eager to pick up anything with words on it and read. It became an addiction sort of. But the addiction wasn’t just for laugh and giggles, it was for something much greater than that. Alexie tells us that his reason for reading so much was, “I was trying to save my life.” (Alexie p. 19) At the end of the story he tells us that he is not only trying to save his life, but he is trying to save their (Indians) lives as well.
As we have seen being educated means gaining knowledge for a purpose bigger than oneself. When one can take what they have read and apply it to a bigger meaning in life, they have unlocked many doors for themselves in life. Hard work and dedication are two major factors for getting the most knowledge out of oneself as they possibly can. Alexie has definitely shown us what it means to be self-educated and have literacy about what was read.